Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre (YEAC-Nigeria), a frontline nongovernmental organization that campaigns against oil theft, artisanal refineries and pollution in the Niger Delta among others has called on the new joint armed forces operation against artisanal refineries in the Niger Delta to consider the environmental implications of their operations as they execute the special mandate of destroying illegal refinery sites in the region.

Advocacy Centre through its “One Million Youth Volunteers Network of Human Rights Defenders and Promoters in the Niger Delta”, “Network on Organized Crime in Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea”, the “Crude Oil Spill Alert System (COSAS)” and members of “Rivers West Senatorial District Modular Refinery Multi-Purpose Co-operative Society” has received and verified information about ongoing renewed joint armed forces’ operations against artisanal refineries in the Niger Delta with intense actions in Asari Toru Local Government Area in recent days.

Reports have it that serious actions have been taking place in the Krakrama Community area in Asari-Toru Local Government area of Rivers State in recent days with many illegal artisanal refinery sites destroyed with further massive implications on the environment, fisher-folks and farmers’ livelihoods.

This renewed action against artisanal refineries which is being reported on the heels of an alleged new directive to the armed forces comprising of the Army, Navy and Air Force “to destroy all the illegal refineries across the Niger Delta” runs concurrently with the pipeline security contract that the impact of their operations in relation to recent vessels confiscated and set ablaze were not also good environmental-friendly practices.

Being one of the few organizations directly registered by the government and mandated “to campaign against oil theft, artisanal refining and pollution”, the Executive Director of YEAC-Nigeria, Fyneface Dumnamene Fyneface who is also the National Facilitator of Project with Artisanal Crude Oil Refiners for Modular Refineries as alternative livelihood opportunities in the Niger Delta said

“I support actions that would reduce environmental pollution through the discontinuation of pipeline vandalism, crude oil theft, artisanal refining and associated environmental pollution but adding to the already polluted and fragile Niger Delta environment in the process of stopping artisanal refineries is not the best thing to further do. In carrying out the mandate, the armed forces should join our advocacy on pollution-free environment by not destroying the illegal facilities and spill petroleum products into the environment but ensure environmental-friendly practices in disposal, mainstream environmental and human rights-based approaches in their operations to mitigate further negative impacts of their activities on the environment and the people of the Niger Delta”.

Mr. Fyneface Dumnamene reiterates his call on the federal government to use both carrot and stick approaches in the war against artisanal refineries in the Niger Delta.

While describing the armed forces joint operations and pipeline surveillance contracts as the stick approaches, he said issuing the approved 18 Modular Refinery licenses for Artisanal Refiners and establish the Presidential Artisanal Crude Oil Refining Development Initiative (PACORDI) that modernizes, legalizes and integrates artisanal refineries into the national economy among other would serve as the carrot approaches and alternative livelihood opportunities for artisanal refiners displaced from the stick approaches to mitigate increase in other organized crime in the region and the Gulf of Guinea.

Executive Director, YEAC-Nigeria.
July 21, 2023